Information Technology Students working on computers in lab
Hallmark Cybersecurity Students Tie with Only One University for Most Wins

Students from local San Antonio universities recently competed in a month-long cybersecurity competition to test their skills with cybersecurity students throughout the United States. By the end of the competition, students from Hallmark University, The University of Texas at San Antonio, and Texas A&M University-San Antonio had all won weekly challenges during the national competition.

The CyberXL Competition, hosted by the National Cybersecurity Student Association, presents students with weekly challenges that focus on testing their skills in cryptography, network traffic analysis, and more. Each week introduced a new and progressively more difficult challenge for students to solve, with the competition organizers giving little direction on how to solve each challenge. By the end of the competition, San Antonio students had won nearly half of all the challenges.

“San Antonio is ranked second in the nation for cybersecurity jobs right behind Washington, D.C.,” shared Cybersecurity Instructor Dr. Warren Mack. “Employers in the area need a lot of cybersecurity certified workers so local universities work hard to produce the best graduates in the field.”

San Antonio is the largest hub for cybersecurity in the United States outside of Washington, D.C., hosting a slew of military, federal, and private organizations that focus on the critical industry. Universities in San Antonio focus heavily on developing their students into skilled cybersecurity professionals, which has led to national recognition of the quality cybersecurity programs offered in the city.

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“The results of the competition really shows the focus that San Antonio universities have on their cybersecurity programs, and I find it exceptionally exciting that two of our students outperformed students from UTSA, which many consider to have one of the best cybersecurity programs in the nation.”

The competition picked four winners for each of the four weekly challenges, and students in San Antonio used their expertise to take home a combined six wins from the month-long competition. Of the six total wins from the three local institutions, half were won by students in Hallmark University’s Cybersecurity program.

“We had weekly challenges that got progressively harder, and each week focused on finding vulnerabilities and deciphering information in different areas,” shared Hallmark student Bradley Gruver. “It was a challenge, but I’m stoked with how we did. This was a nationwide competition, and there were quite a few people involved, so it was a big honor to win a couple of the challenges.”

Bradley and another cybersecurity student won three of the four weekly challenges, tying with only one other university for the most wins during the month-long competition. Even with the national recognition that local universities receive for their cybersecurity programs, Hallmark University’s students took home as many wins as UTSA and TAMUSA combined.

In the end, every student did exceptionally well in the competition, reflecting the status that the United States holds as a leader in cybersecurity.